This is coding, right?

Last night (and this morning), ambitious programmers participated in the Devfest Hackathon, a marathon of hacking which started at 6 pm on Friday and ended today at noon. Bwog sent Developer Devotee Maud Rozee to visit the scene.

Blizzard Nemo was raging at 11:30 last night when I visited the Devfest Hackathon, making the trip to Mudd even more arduous than usual. Things got even worse once I was inside. The hackathon was advertised as being “in the CS lounge” and I thought it would be no problem to find… It turns out that this “CS lounge” is behind two sets of locked doors which need special swipe access to open.  (What are you programmers doing in there? Creating the Cylon race? Sheesh.) Undeterred, I did the old stealthily-wait-for-someone-to-come-out-and-then-grab-the-door (twice) and managed to infiltrate Fort CS Lounge.

I had imagined the hackathon would be a dimly lit room full of compsci nerds, all fiercely competitive, trying to prove something to their ex-girlfriends and suing their only friends for millions of dollars a la The Social Network. (Did I also imagine myself meeting and falling in love with an Andrew Garfield-lookalike? Well, now that you mention it, yes, yes I did). The reality of the hackathon was, unsurprisingly, different. Inside the CS Lounge, about 30 guys and 5 girls were jovially working in the midst of a thin layer of snacks strewn over every surface. Students were heading out to the snowball fight, reflecting on the shortcomings of Columbia Athletics, and arguing about design hierarchy. Best of all, everyone I talked to was exceedingly nice and/or cute.

Brushing past a 4-foot pile of empty pizza boxes next to the door, I approached the tables to bother people about what they were working on. The first guy I spoke to was “hacking a router”. “Sounds like fun,” I said, smiling and nodding. Luckily, other people were working on things more intelligible to a lay person:

  • A program which could replace all the red solo cups in someone’s Facebook pictures with cats.
  • A way for people to sell the dining meal points they’re not going to use to hungrier students.
  • A website which would provide programming-job-hunters with a common application to any start-up company.
  • An iPhone app which could digitize input from a microphone, so that a speech could be transcribed, broadcast or made interactive.
  • A videogame called Meatbeat which involved rhythm and bouncing meatballs.

In spite of the impressive challenges being tackled and the long night/morning of programming that everyone had in front of them, the Devfest hackathon looked like a lot of fun. It made me want to become a CS student so that I too could create an awesome program/website, hang out with sweet CS students, and justify the fact that I basically broke into their lounge.


Memories of Digimon via Shutterstock